VTENJC – the irrelevant content

Since I had been to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum as recently as last month, I thought I had a pretty good critique of what the First Nations exhibit did, and did not say about the reality of Treaty and the historical and present treatment of First Nations people.

However, as soon as I received the Scavenger Hunt page for the First Nations Gallery, I forgot about what I knew or didn’t know. The only thing that was important was being the first group to complete it!

My group whipped through the exhibit, filled out the answers in record time, and even had time to criticize the hidden message for VTENJC.

Pointing out 6 little letters at the end of a secret message might seem petty, but really, doesn’t this just reflect the lingering messages that are or are not shown in the First Nations Gallery.

What was most disappointing about the Gallery was its lack of recognition of the current affairs of First Nations, (and Metis and Inuit were barely mentioned). The display made it seem as if they were a people in the past, frozen in time.

Despite the above, I felt that the suggestion mentioned in the Clio Club article of a first person reenactment would be less useful in Saskatchewan, as I think there are far more meaningful and culturally rich ways to experience a First Nations worldview directly through guest speakers or outings; pow wows, tipi raisings, etc.

Another idea that “Cultivating Thinking in Museums” offered was the idea of Time being something we don’t give ourselves or our classes the luxury of taking, but that it is of utmost importance to give students time to reflect on art pieces. In addition, modeling this behavior of critical thinking and making connections can begin before the visit. I think showing some samples in class prior can give student the opportunity to “practice” reflection and critical thinking and also set their expectation for the museum visit ahead of time. This will establish the sense of purpose before going on the field trip.

I found the articles that were shared in Social Studies really offered some great ways to incorporate critical thinking into a field trip such as this one, where there are many misrepresentations. I would like to incorporate many of these ideas into a field guide for myself so that my field trips are always purposeful and successful.

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